Dan Gustafson, MN AFL-CIO President Emeritus
Danny Gustafson (Daniel W.), who was President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO from 1985-90, passed away on Thursday, March 2, 2019 at the age of 91.
He was a loved and respected leader in the labor movement and recognized for his expertise on many issues, but particularly in the areas of Worker’s Compensation, Unemployment Compensation and OSHA standards. This knowledge was a great asset to our state’s workers during Dan’s years at the MN AFL-CIO. He is described as a “lifelong champion and defender of working people throughout Minnesota”.
Prior to his presidency, Dan was Secretary Treasurer of the MN AFL-CIO for six years. He served many years in the Building Trades in Minneapolis, first in the Plasterer’s Union and then as President of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council.
Dan’s important work in Minneapolis included spearheading the construction of the United Labor Center, creating a co-location for many unions. He was a driving force and one of the founders of the Union State Bank, and on their Board until his death. Before it was the “in” thing to do, Dan worked with the Urban League of Minneapolis to create opportunities in apprenticeships leading to construction jobs for members of disadvantaged communities. The effort was called “Partners for Strong Neighborhoods”.
Ray Waldron, another President Emeritus of the MN AFL-CIO, spoke at Dan’s funeral service on Saturday, April 6. He described the first time he met Dan in 1974. Dan was speaking at a meeting and colorfully described his strong feelings about a politician who had lied to him. Ray said “I knew this was the kind of guy I would like to hang around with.” And so he did. Ray described Dan as “a leader, a life coach, but mostly, a true and loyal friend”.
Dan’s wife and one son preceded him in death. He is survived by 4 sons, 2 daughters, 6 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.